Your First Game Day

Now that you have passed your test, contacted an Assignor, and accepted your assignments, it's time for your first game! This can be an exciting day, but stressful as well.  Knowing what to expect can help.

First, make sure you pack your gear the night before.  This way you won't be scrambling for time on game day.  Here's a list of what you need, along with some suggested additional items:

Pack your gear the night before your games

Pack your gear the night before your games

  • Referee Uniform
  • Whistle
  • Watch - at least one
  • Yellow and red cards
  • Paper or index cards
  • Pen or pencil
  • Flags
  • Flipping coin
  • Plenty of water
  • Light snacks and/or fruit
  • Sunscreen
  • Change of socks
  • Backup shoes

Next, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to travel to the game.  You must arrive a MINIMUM of 30 MINUTES prior to your game.  If you do not arrive within this time, you may be replaced on your assignment.

You may arrive dressed in uniform and ready to referee, or you may dress at the site.  Many referees wait until they arrive so they can choose the best uniform color based on the teams that day.  Any time you are in uniform, the following apply:

  • Your shirt must be tucked in
  • Your socks must be pulled up
  • You must conduct yourself in a professional, respectable manner
Meet your crew and always enter and leave the field together.  When in uniform your shirt should be tucked in and socks pulled up.

Meet your crew and always enter and leave the field together.  When in uniform your shirt should be tucked in and socks pulled up.

Once on site, you will find the other referees you will work with.  For league games, you will usually proceed directly to your assigned field and meet your crew there.  For tournaments, there will be a "referee headquarters" where everyone meets to check in with the supervisor and obtain any game paperwork.  

When you find your crew, you should inform the referee that it is your first game.  You should do this away from the teams in order to prevent unnecessary attention.  By knowing it is your first game, the referee will be able to help you with the entire process and ensure a positive experience.  Follow his/her lead during the game.

Before the starting whistle, line up with the second-to-last defender.  Once the game starts, stay with this position or with the ball as you were instructed to do in your certification class.  Assist the referee with offside, throw-ins, goal kicks, corner kicks, and fouls as instructed in class and in the referee's pregame.

At halftime and after the game is over, meet your crew in the field and walk off together.  You will discuss how the game went and any referee issues that arose.  Feel free to ask about any league/tournament procedures, Laws of the Game, or decisions that were made.  Make sure you always remain respectful and professional.   You may also ask the referee supervisor, mentor if one is on site, your Instructor, or any more experienced referee.

Complete any required paperwork and turn it in to the appropriate authority.  For tournaments this is usually a field marshal that will take game reports at the field or the headquarters where you picked it up.

If there were red cards or head injuries, the referee is required to fill out reports online.  Only the referee is required to do this.

Now that you know what to expect, enjoy your first game day and look forward to many more ahead!